November

Key Tasks

Great time to lime the soil and the pond. Close the stack windows. This is a good time to clean the guns and sharpen the knives. Watch for warm days, which are good days to clean out the chicken coop.

November 1

November 2

November 3

2014

We returned from a three-day stay at the beach today. After dropping off Adrian and her gear, we decided we had enough space in the car to accommodate the chicks, so we decided to drive straight to Vaughan Hardware in Tuskegee. We got two barred rock and two Rhode Island Red, all born on October 22, so they will be two weeks old Wednesday. Asa says there’s a 98% chance they’re female, so we’ll take those odds. I had already prepared their bin before I left, so they went straight into it without incident. Right now I’m just keeping them warm and letting them recover from the shock of the handling and the trip.

November 4

2014

Most of the day away from the farm, first to travel to Montgomery and sing with Amanda and Adrian for the senior citizens of First UMC Montgomery at their Terrific Tuesday meeting (and lunch following); then some errands. Then a brief return to the farm followed by travel to town to change the sign and to have our first rehearsal for Amahl and the Night Visitors. The chicks are settling in and have begun eating from the feeder so I don’t have to keep cleaning and filling that little glass bowl. Still working to get them adapted to the watering bottle.

November 5

2014

All four chicks are drinking from the water bottle now, which is a relief. Their hay was beginning to smell; I changed it out today and put the soiled hay in the compost tumbler. There is one barred rock that may be emerging as the queen of the group, flapping noisily and pushing the other three around. Last night I committed to the 30-day trial of Microsoft Office 365. Catapults me back onto the leading edge of technology with current releases of Word, Excel, Outlook, and Access, plus a host of lesser-known applications that may actually have more of an impact on the way I do business, like SharePoint, Lync, and Exchange Server. So far, it’s all a little overwhelming, but I’m hoping it will become clearer to me over the coming month how I can make this work.

November 6

2014

After installing Office 365 last night, I spent most of the day doing quiet work. At the end of the day, though, I loaded all the branches from the trees I had cut down south of the orchard and added them to the brush pile I had built earlier. That area (that we pass on the way to the pond) looks much better now, more natural.

November 7

2014

We spent most of the day at Bill Shell’s house near Auburn for a Japanese Maple gathering. Good times. We toured Bill’s maples, did a little grafting, and had a nice lunch together. Then to Auburn to pick up some lupin seed, then back to the farm. Tonight the EfM group had a reunion at the Sharptons’ house in Montgomery.

November 8

2014

Mostly quiet work today. Made good progress on our “Fun with Fruit” presentation at AUM on Wednesday. Then a quick trip to town. We had a football game going on TV most of the afternoon. Pleasant. Tonight we watched the Alabama game. It was ugly, but there was a thrilling finish, and we escaped in overtime with a win. The euphoria of the Tide’s victory was marred by our sink’s coming unlaminated from the granite countertop. Bummer. Major bummer.

November 9

2014

I volunteered to prepare apple crumble for Amanda’s refreshments at the church this morning, and it turned out to be quite difficult and messy without the use of the sink in the kitchen. I got through it, and the crumble was delicious, but it was a bear to prepare. Church went smoothly; I served as Lay Eucharistic Minister. Then I went ahead and changed the sign this afternoon, so now I don’t have to worry about doing it tomorrow. This afternoon I updated the church web site and calendar and then did some research on Office 365.

November 10

2014

Made the decision in the wee hours of the morning that Office 365 will not work. In order to get Access, which I must have, I would have to pay $20 per month. At that rate, I would have trouble justifying the cost. It’s good to know I’ve made a decision. I will use the software for one presentation we’re making on Wednesday at AUM, and then I will uninstall the programs. Amanda was in Montgomery most of the day. For me, most of the morning was occupied finishing up the slides for Wednesday, and the afternoon was quietly going through correspondence.

November 11

2014

Played host to Jim and Kara Shea Davis today and had a nice visit with them, followed by lunch at 1220. We enjoyed a persimmon as dessert after our lunch. The wasps and beetles are plaguing us again. We had a mad dash to clean up the porches in anticipation of their visit, and by the afternoon the porches were filling back up again. This afternoon we drove to Wetumpka to practice and then sing as part of the choir for the community Veterans Day service. Lots of fun, but we skipped the reception afterward and came straight home.

2013

Been out of the habit of updating the calendar lately, and that’s a bad thing. We have a killing freeze forecast tomorrow night and the night after. We pulled the last three persimmons, the last 20 or so muscadines, and two figs. We also pulled a couple of green figs just to see if they would ripen any indoors (we don’t think they will). This marks the end of the 2013 fruit season for us, so Amanda and I stood in the orchard and said a prayer together thanking God for the fruit we have enjoyed this summer. It has been a wonderful season.

November 12

2014

Dave Dean dropped by this morning and reglued the sink to the counter. Now we need to leave it alone until Friday afternoon, when he will return to reconnect everything. Weu can’t use the dishwasher until then. Got out in the orchard while he was here and picked persimmons and muscadines for us to share with the students at AUM later this morning. The presentation went well, followed by lunch with Mama at the country club. A little rest in the afternoon, then some chores for Mama, and then we returned to the farm in time for supper.

2013

Amanda was in Wetumpka most of the morning, so I spent the better part of the morning working on learning Morse Code and working on the sign at the church. This afternoon I did divorce work and correspondence. This afternoon Amanda pulled all the peppers ahead of the freeze. We have a great photo of them to show on the podcast.

November 13

2014

Up early to record the podcast on Growing Fruit at Home. Then off to Wetumpka to grade tests for the intern Master Gardeners. Then home to help Amanda harvest peppers, tomatoes, and persimmons ahead of the 27 degree freeze predicted for tonight. Then a nap, then to the church to help unpack beans & rice. Then back home to finish editing and publishing the podcast before we settled down to a late supper.

2013

Amanda and I recorded the podcast this morning. Then I edited it while she secured Veg Hill and prepared all the peppers she’s delivering to friends today. This afternoon I spent a good bit of time learning Morse Code, moving from 5 to 13 letters. The breakthrough came when I stopped trying to type and stopped trying to speed up more than 5 wpm. Now I can add letters pretty easily, just writing the letters on a sheet of paper. This afternoon I blew off the pavilion and harvested all the beetles and wasps for the compost. Then Oddie and I took a long walk first on the North Trail, then the spine and the Creekside Trail. Even though it was a cool afternoon, I was sweating by the time we got back.

November 14

2014

As predicted, we had a low of 27 this morning, although it was very quick and then popped right back up. I took the garbage out, changed the chicks’ hay and put the old hay around a kiwifruit, and then retreated to the indoors with Amanda. Spent most of the day trying to get control of my files, which is LONG overdue.

2013

Up during the wee hours to practice CW. Up to 18 letters now. I went too fast and had to back off and just practice what I had learned for a while. Up and into Montgomery early for an appointment with Maddox. Then back to the farm to finish publishing the podcast. This afternoon the EfM group came to our farm. Then Amanda and I took a short walk at the end of the day before Tom Bray dropped by to help me install my new CW key, a Bencher BY-1 paddle.

November 15

2014

Spent the morning in a mad rush to prepare for 70 people Adrian has invited for the cast party. Gathered wood for fire pit and deposited it, then removed firewood pallet from pavilion, then blew off pavilion and porch, then set up tables on the porch. Then we drove to Birmingham for several errands, then Meredith McKinney’s wedding and reception following, trying to follow as much of the Alabama/Mississippi State game as we could. Long day, but a good one.

2013

I tried to cannibalize a pair of iPod earbuds this morning to wire up my key, but the wires were tiny and I must have shorted them out. When I finished, the right side didn’t respond at all, and the left responded as if I was holding both paddles together. I will wait until Sunday and see if I can get a more robust stereo mini-plug attached to thicker wires with real insulation. This afternoon we got an unexpected shower. Not much production, but it was pleasant to hear the rain.

November 16

2014

Up bright and early this morning to bush hog the driveway and blow off the pavilion and porch anew (beetles and wasps are awful this time of year) in anticipation of Adrian’s cast party for Grease. Then we applied table roll to the tables and set up chairs, being careful to work toward the closet so we could get the racks back into the closet. Then to church (didn’t make it to Sunday School. Then straight to 1220 for lunch with Mama. Then straight to the high school for the closing performance, which was MUCH better than I had expected. Then we lit out early to get back to the farm so I could light fires in both the outdoor fireplace and the fire pit. The party was genuinely enjoyable. The parents came through with plenty of food and drinks, they watched the video of their play, and then they did the Virginia Reel together on the pavilion. Amanda and I both were in heaven as we first watched them dance, and then joined in the dance ourselves. What fun! Everybody was gone by 8:30.

2013

This morning was Beans & Rice at the church. We had 83 families, easily blowing our previous record out of the water. What to do? This afternoon (really into tonight) we made pepper jelly. It’s going to be good!

November 17

2014

It was just wicked cold today, and so windy that I had to suspend work on changing the sign after the cover collapsed in the wind and came down hard on me. Made a total of eight stops in town this morning, then back home for quiet work most of the afternoon. I did get out to take care of the chickens this afternoon and later after dark to move the firewood pallet back up to the lodge so we’ll have firewood available up there for the wood stove.

2013

Great morning at church. Lots of validation in Sunday School for how Amanda and I are selecting hymns for worship, then a wonderful worship service, then to Montgomery for lunch with Mama.

November 18

2014

The two persimmons we left on the trees both came through the 25 degree night with flying colors! So proud, so proud. Drove to Lanark for the CAMGA meeting there. Today was my first day to be with the CAMGA folks after being elected to serve as VP for programming, so it was my first chance to share with them some of our plans for the next year. Then to Wetumpka, where Amanda and I met with Clayton Hutsler re his job prospects. Then back home to gear up for the bitter cold night. We deployed frost blanket on beds 11 and 15, because that’s where Amanda had her broccoli growing.

2013

I did it! I finally managed to get my CW key plugged in and working! Now I need to practice with it “offline” (not transmitting) enough so I feel comfortable attempting a real CW QSO. Spent most of the middle of the day at the church finishing the securing of the sign. I can now say grace over that and declare it complete. This afternoon I pulled down the grill from the pallet rack and grilled 24 rubbed chicken thighs. Yum! 22 of them are now in the deep freeze.

November 19

2014

We got down to 18 this morning, which was considerably colder than I was expecting. The broccoli came through well under the frost blanket, and the collards, while damaged, still look fundamentally healthy. Amanda’s red sail lettuce seemed to embrace the cold, as did the strawberries and arugula in Bed #2.

2013

Developing more proficiency now with the key and with hearing the code. Still not fast enough or confident enough to attempt a QSO (live conversation), but if I keep after it I think it’s only a matter of days. Amanda was away from the farm most of the day. Oddie and I enjoyed a long walk in the middle of the day. The views are opening up as the leaves drop; you can see the horizon again from the West Knoll.

November 20

2015

It was a bright, sunny day, so I sliced up a persimmon and experimented with using the Sun Oven as a dehydrator. In general, I was pleased with the results. I think the fruit was totally dehydrated after one day, which I will call a success. The main challenge is to keep the temperature under control, in particular to avoid getting it too warm.

2014

Uploaded and published the podcast this morning. Then I worked indoors while it was cold outside. Then I dismantled the trellis posts on Veg Hill.

2013

Recorded the podcast this morning, and spent most of the remainder of the day editing it and getting it ready to publish, then polishing CW skills.

November 21

2015

The forecast is for mid 30s tonight and mid to high 20s tomorrow night, and we will be tied up most of tomorrow, so this was our last chance to pull heat-loving veg. I first pulled all but four persimmons from the orchard; I left those four just to see how they fare. Then I pulled all the tomatoes and all the okra. Amanda then took over, pulling all the peppers. Now we just need to figure out what to do with all this produce!

2014

The morning was taken up with some paperwork and two sessions, interrupted by emptying the humanure buckets to take advantage of the warm sunshine. Felt great to be outside. This afternoon Amanda stripped all the carcasses of the heat-loving veg from the raised beds on Veg Hill, and I removed the trellis supports and t-posts from the Veg Hill floor. I was in the process of placing the trellis supports over the apartment when one of them fell to the floor and broke one of the bridge pieces. So I stopped in mid-job and repaired it and then finished the job. Amanda ended up with big piles of debris from Veg Hill, which we loaded in Scamp and I deposited on the work platform. Then I emptied the compost tumbler, which had become overfilled with hay. We’ve learned that hay is not a good material to use in the compost tumbler. Sticks together in big clumps too much and doesn’t break down. We’ll try pecan waste instead. We now have a big pile of compost down on the work platform.

2013

A quiet morning working on paperwork and preparing for EfM. Amanda was out and about caring for the Taunton family after the death of Bob’s Mom, so I stayed at the church and worked.

November 22

2014

We awoke with a free morning and an almost certain forecast of rain coming tomorrow, so we made the most of it on Veg Hill. I used Scamp and the wheelbarrow to top up with soil Beds #1, 4, 6, 8, 9, and 10 (basically everything that didn’t have something growing on it). Then I planted cover crop seed: 1. Planted Tillage Radish on the portions of Bed #1 not already planted in onions or chives 2. Reseeded Bed #12 with Indy (it just didn’t fill in the way we needed it to, so I gave up on following the label directions) 3. Planted Charlotte on Bed #6 4. Planted Hairy Vetch on the south half of Bed #9. 5. Planted Triticale on the north half of Bed #9. 6. Planted crimson clover on Bed #10 7. Amanda planted lupin on Beds #4 and #8. I will follow up on Bed #8 as soon as I can with oats. I showered and began watching the Alabama game. Amanda planted garlic during the first half but finished by halftime.

2013. I was in Wetumpka all day at the CLE for Elmore County Bar. When I returned to the farm about 4:00 Dylan was here finishing his installation of Exede Internet service. We had a great deal of difficulty getting the signal to come through well to the various computers and phones, but I think it’s working okay now.

November 23

2014

We had about 1/10 inch of rain overnight, but there was a break in the rain this morning, so I spread oats on Bed #8, and Amanda harvested collards. She then chopped the collards while I took care of the chicks. Fun morning at church followed by Thanksgiving dinner. Then we both took naps when we got back.

2013

This morning Amanda and I assembled and installed the office furniture we had purchased nearly a year ago. Crazy that it has taken us so long. We spent most of the afternoon listening (not watching) the Alabama Chattanooga game while Amanda arranged all her supplies and files in the desk and cabinets.

November 24

2014

Amanda spent all day in Montgomery with Mama, who developed severe abdominal pains overnight. Still don’t know what the main problem is. Spent most of the day with quiet work, including two sessions. I did manage to reconfigure the heat lamp in the chicks’ bin so that it heats a larger area less intently. Also checked on the chickens and mulched a couple more trees on Veg Hill and started mulching muscadines on the orchard floor. Amahl rehearsal tonight.

2013

It was wicked cold outside this morning because of a brisk north wind. Great morning at church celebrating Christ the King Sunday. This afternoon I had my first CW QSO with the help of my good friend James Estes, who talked me through it step by step. Yea!

November 25

2014

So proud of myself. I sat down this morning, spent an hour and a half, and built a list of all the CAMGA programs for the years 2010-14. Now I can tell at a glance when we last did a program similar to the one I’m considering. Yea! Drove to the Extension Office today and checked out CAMGA’s computer and projector. The computer appears to have had a hard disk crash and is probably a doorstop. The projector is fine as far as I know but I haven’t checked it out yet. Mallory and I had a nice leisurely lunch together and talked over several folks to help with programs. Then I met with the property tax people in the courthouse and I think I understand our bill now. I just need to figure out how to pay it.

2013

Still very cold this morning. Amanda was gone to Montgomery most of the day. I began the day with some quiet work indoors enjoying the wood stove. Then Oddie and I enjoyed a long walk over on the East side. This afternoon I seeded the hillside between the lodge and the barn with ryegrass ahead of the predicted rain tonight and tomorrow. Amanda and I loaded the Christmas tree on Tractor’s pallet forks, and I drove it up to the porch of the lodge. Then I worked on Morse Code in the late afternoon. A good day.

November 26

2014

Up early to cook dressing and to record, edit, and publish the podcast before heading to Dave Gray’s and Lynda’s farm for Thanksgiving. Just a delightful day with lots of chances to catch up on time with the family. Then we stopped by to visit with Mama on our way home. Tonight we watched football games on TV and enjoyed a quiet evening by the wood stove.

2013

Two sessions this morning as the rains came. Then I ran several errands in town before heading back to the farm. Spent the rest of the day inside listening to the rains fall. Thoroughly cozy!

November 27

2014

Thanksgiving Day at Dave Gray’s and Lynda’s farm. Just delightful. Then home to veg by the wood stove and watch a football game on TV.

2013

Putting yesterday and the wee hours of this morning together, we finished with 1.4 inches of rain. We needed it, so I’m delighted. Long walk in the middle of the day. It was cold and windy, but the midday sunshine kept us warm. I wrapped the kiwifruit late this afternoon, and then Amannda and I assembled the Christmas tree. I’ve scanned all the directions for the Christmas tree so we’ll be able to get to them even if something happens to the paper. At the end of the day Amanda put frost blanket on the _____ in Bed #5.

November 28

2014

Up early this morning to rake leaves at the lake. We were working against the clock, because we all needed to attend Tom’s and Martha Lynn’s Golden Anniversary party, but we got a LOT done. We cleared all the grass and gathered the leaves on the shore, where we were able to burn them up. Amanda and I left about 10:15 for the farm with a truck loaded with leaves and straw. At the farm, we showered and changed clothes and then drove to the Capitol City Club for the party. Then came home, where I took a nice long winter nap.

2013

Fun day celebrating Thanksgiving with all the Robinsons at Dave Gray’s farm. We stayed until nearly nightfall, then followed Dave Gray over to the other property to see the longleafs and oaks he has planted as well as the water retention areas he has created as wildlife habitats. Then back home to relax and watch the Egg Bowl.

November 29

2014

This morning Amanda and I set up the Christmas tree in the lodge, and then I emptied the leaves and straw from the truck. I struck the card table that had been in the barn to prepare for Mama’s watching the Iron Bowl there with us this evening. The game proved to be a humdinger, featuring the most points scored in the history of the game, 55-44. Fortunately, the 55 belonged to the Tide.

2013

We started out planning to putter around the farm today. Amanda was going to decorate the Christmas tree, and I was going to practice Morse Code. Then my Tom called to see if it was okay for him, Harrison, and Jack to come and fish in the afternoon. Then Hunter called to see if it was okay for the Williams family to come and see the farm in the morning. When the day was done, we had been visiting with family almost the whole day. Simply delightful. The tree and the code can wait.

November 30

2014

Started a batch of rolls first thing this morning. It’s not hard work, but it can’t be rushed. Mix well the water, oil, honey, salt, lecithin and half the flour. Let it rise 30 minutes. Add the other half the flour, let it rise another 30 minutes. Make into balls in the baking pan, let it rise another 30 minutes. Cook 20 minutes. Gotta get an early start to take homemade rolls to church! Basking this morning in the glow of the Tide’s victory last night in the Iron Bowl. Wow, what a game. It wasn’t all that well-played by either team, but it was a titan struggle. After church we stayed to be part of the general cleanup. After changing the sign, I cleaned bathrooms in the nave, picked up leaves outside, emptied recycling bins, and helped clean up the nave. Amanda helped put up the Christmas tree and set up the manger scene in the Little House. Late this afternoon as our light was fading, we took a short walk on the North Trail. Good to get back out again.

2013

Spent most of the day preparing for tonight’s Thanksgiving dinner with Mama. Mixed up the dry ingredients for beer bread in the morning, and then mixed up strawberry cobbler using some of a huge bag of strawberries Adrian had bought. Then Amanda and I worked together to cut that 17-pound turkey in half stem to stern so we could smoke it. We ended up with two big pieces, and it worked well. The new timer I had bought from Wal-Mart was obviously defective and melted at about 300 degrees, but the one she bought worked like a champ and helped me cook both halves of the bird to perfection. Alabama lost to Auburn, so the evening didn’t go our way, but we enjoyed watching The Muppet Christmas Carol.

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